Friday 28 January 2011

Love's Libraries Lost

As the Tree/Liberationist Alliance Witangemot administration approaches its 9th month, the antipathy and resentment from the Redistributionists smoulders away. Not content to have taken 13 years of power to bring the Kingdom of Northumbria to colossal debt and the brink of bankruptcy, they continue to snipe and growl at any measures taken by the Alliance to address the economic problems they created. Each day brings yet another litany of public spending cuts, gleefully announced by Beeby See and the other soothsayers, who report it with the faux gravitas of a child snitching on a companion to the school headmaster.

The most recent furore has been about the reduction of services to the libraries. Since the Alliance is on a campaign to reduce public expenditure in a bid to reduce the gargantuan mountain of debt (kindly bequeathed by the Reds), it was deemed necessary by the central Witangemot to reduce the amount of money apportioned to local authorities. Consequently, various public sector jobs have been axed, and as I've already stated before, a multitude of diversity co-ordinators, pigeon psychologists, cat license administrators, fish quota accountants and environmental health enforcement officers have been released from the burdens of toil and wages. Furthermore, services like libraries have been obliged to continue with reduced numbers of librarians and archivists – and they've been forced to reduce their opening times. One of the soothsayers reported that a renowned novelist referred to the impact of expenditure cuts on libraries as tantamount to child-abuse. Most of the children brats I see don't haunt libraries in the first place – unless they're abnormally intelligent or geekish. To be seen entering such a place would reduce their status in the eyes of their contemporaries; to die in a shop window would be a more desirable alternative. They contribute to their own development by hanging around street corners, drinking mead, chewing magic mushrooms and behaving with the dignity and decorum of a herd of half-starved pigs when the swill arrives. I would love to introduce them to my mate Leo.

Absurdities like this are never far away from the public arena; Edweird the Milliner and Caedmeron recently had a lively exchange of views in the Witangemot over the strategy to reduce the Northumbrian debt. Weirdy postulated the all-familiar fantasy idea that the Alliance should have encouraged business in order to improve the economy – rather than reducing services to enable the debt to be paid off. Caedmeron countered that by asserting that you can't encourage business when the moneylenders aren't making loans – and anyway, you can't spend what you haven't got to get you out of the debt you're already in as a result of spending what you never had in the first place. (You didn't get that, did you?) Needless to say, the two leaders started to brawl. Edweird came off worse – he had two black eyes to add to the ones he already possessed.

It's amazing what theatrical stunts these clowns will pull to maintain their elaborate illusion. It's great entertainment – and it suitably occupies me until the next Ð Factor. I can't wait for Erik the Pickle to appear on 'Strictly Come Morris Dancing'

Tuesday 25 January 2011

The King's Speech

The other day, Feaxede the fox excitedly loped towards me with something in his mouth. Could I possibly tell him what it was? I took a look at the object; it was immediately apparent that it was a scroll of vellum, which is a thin skin of hide used for manuscripts, books and documents. I asked him where he'd found it, and he told me that it was in the dump, where he does most of his researches. He asked me if I could read it. Since I was taught to read by Caedmon as part of my Christian education, I took a look at the document. It was rather dirty and sodden, but the writing was clear enough for me to discern that it was a transcript of King Alhfrith's Christmas message; it had probably been discarded by Beeby See - or one of her minions - following the Christmas season. Usually the soothsayers read out to the local populace the latest communication from the Great and the Good – and even our noble King. Since I was very tired this Christmas, I hadn't bothered to go to listen to the latest proclamation, so the content was new to me.
I read through it while Feaxede eagerly listened. I can't remember the full content verbatim, but as I recall, the speech started off with the King addressing his loyal subjects and talking about the Bible. It would appear that this year is an anniversary of the translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into the Anglo-Saxon tongue. The monks at the Abbey still read the Latin version, so this was news to my ears. The King went on to say how the Bible brought people together. It would appear that the King then got some Viking, Bulgar and Frankish children to read a passage to him from the Bible, so one of them started with the words:
On frymðe wæs Word, and þæt Word wæs mid Gode, and God wæs þæt Word. Þæt wæs on fruman mid Gode. Ealle þing wæron geworhte ðurh hyne; and nan þing næs geworht butan him. Þæt wæs lif þe on him geworht wæs; and þæt lif wæs manna leoht. And þæt leoht lyht on ðystrum; and þystro þæt ne genamon.
Feaxede was puzzled. Why didn't the King read the passage himself? And why wasn't it read by Anglo-Saxon children? I explained that the old boy can't read; he always gets others to read to him. He uses his thumb to sign important documents and charters whenever a signature is needed. And in these days of diversity, it's important to exclude Anglo-Saxons, since they are mere incidentals in the unfolding political Plan of the Holy Roman Empire (which is neither holy, Roman, nor an empire).
When I read the next portion of the speech, I became as puzzled as Feaxede had been: the King then went on to talk about football, and how it – like the Bible - also brought people together. I can't understand how the Bible is supposed to bring people together in a day when the country is being systematically de-Christianised, and where signs of our Anglo-Saxon Christian heritage are being mocked or stealthily removed in favour of the Vikings and their Eddas. As I understand it, the Master in the Gospel said that He came to bring a sword rather than peace (by which He refers to division rather than unity).
And how on earth does football bring people together? Some people come together to watch Madcaster United and their star striker Wade Rune, but only to watch the game and to bellow unceremoniously when something happens on the pitch. When the game is over, they either go home or get drunk in the meadhouses, where I've heard the most acrimonious arguments between football supporters. Blood has been spilt. I also know that whenever Milwall supporters visit, the costumed thugs have to assiduously brain them with big sticks to keep them in check, and to prevent further outbreaks of violence.
So, what was the King waffling about? I'm blowed if I know. Mead and ale certainly bring people together; dances and entertainments do the same. Work – out of necessity - brings people together, whether they like it or not. Poverty and adversity also unite. But as I see it, the Anglo-Saxon Bible and football are unlikely companions in the task of uniting people.
Perhaps I'm missing something. Or maybe the King is losing his marbles. I suggested that Feaxede that he take the document back to the dump, where it could carry on doing what it had been communicating – rot.

Friday 21 January 2011

False Friends

There's been a great deal of interest shown by the Northumbria soothsayers in the activities of various plain-clothed costumed thugs.

For example, it appears that one such gentleman infiltrated a group of naïve youths who are active disciples of His Holiness Bishop Georges Moonbat, the fly agaric-chewing religious leader of the Manmade Global Warming cult. These youths had been planning a raid on a major stockyard from which all supplies of firewood are obtained; their intention was to occupy the store, thus preventing tradesmen and householders from buying it to heat their workshops and homes. In this way they imagined that they would save the planet from apocalyptic desolation and destruction. Whatever.

The plain-clothed costumed thug joined their starry-eyed ranks, having cultivated the beard and the requisite amount of pustules. He grew his hair long, joined their meetings, wore the same kind of beads and clothes as his new friends, learned their patois and displayed the same measure of fanatical enthusiasm for their plans and objectives. He even formed serious relationships with some of the girls in the group – but I'm puzzled as to why the size of his feet didn't betray him..

In the meantime, he was busy secretly passing on information to other plain-clothed costumed thugs while discreetly visiting his old haunts. The project went disastrously wrong for the youths' plans when costumed thugs arrived at the stockyard and arrested them in the act of their trespass. They duly appeared before the Moot, but after a few days the case fell down with an audible thud when the plain-clothed costumed thug admitted before the Moot what he'd been doing. He felt sorry for them.

Justice had been compromised. The pimply disciples of Moonbat felt understandably let down and betrayed when this came to light.

The plain-clothed costumed thug is now the subject of an undue amount of interest, and the poets are already writing verses about his exploits. Caedmon isn't interested, however.

But it got me thinking about the Witangemot. After all, it's populated by the same kind of false friends, who win the trust of the populace by talking like them, pretending to be interested in them, and making all manner of empty promises. They hide behind their factions, pledging much but ultimately delivering  their only commodity - disillusionment in cartloads - to the starry-eyed masses. They're like the maggot that Caedmon found in his apple the other day. Everything looked nice on the outside – until the inner activities came to light…

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Cats and Rats

Rats are interesting creatures, and can be quite endearing in their own peculiar way. I know for a fact that humans don't like them; they've had a bad press for being dirty and smelly, having unwholesome domestic arrangements, raiding grain supplies, chewing various people's belongings in the dead of night - and leaving liquid and solid organic messages wherever they go. For my part, I don't mind them. They provide more of a challenge than their smaller cousins, since they can become quite aggressive when confronted. They have nasty teeth - and several cats I know have suffered from their bites in such encounters. As for those rats who are too big to attempt to catch, I engage them in creature-to-creature conversation, and generally find them to be intelligent and charming - within the obvious limitations that come with living in midden heaps and garbage dumps. They represent an underclass, living in the shadows and conducting their business away from the gaze of the human race. In many ways they're like subversives, whose interests are perceived to conflict with those of their unwitting and unwilling hosts.

I've even seen households which have kept them as pets for children - although they're more sanitized editions, coming in colours like white, black and piebald; they're certainly cleaner specimens.

I have it on good authority that while a certain stooge of Beeby See was busy pontificating on his mistress' behalf outside Caedmeron's official residence the other night, a rat was observed to nonchalantly walk past the doorway during the course of his business. I had to smile when I heard that. It's gratifying to know that in the elevated world of human affairs - which has no time for God's creatures and the things of the natural realm -  a creature regarded as vermin can wander by in relative safety.

But for every rat walking by the Ministerial Residence, there are hundreds who pass through the doors - and those of the Witangemot.

Tuesday 18 January 2011

A Parallel World

What's reality? - That is the question that some fly agaric-chewing sorcerers in the sacred portal of Beeby See were asking yesterday. They were talking the usual guff about parallel universes; they were telling us that our view of reality is by no means definitive; the dark arts of sorcery and the cranial somersaults of the wizards are producing strange numbers from which even more bizarre theories are now hatching. This is the kind of cleverness that strays into the fantasy land of the demented. To be honest, I wasn't taking too much notice of their ramblings; I've heard their sort of La-La Land claptrap before. Many times. In my book, reality is a cosy curl-up in front of a warm fire. It's singing feline shanties with my mates at full volume outside Beeby's mansion at dead of night. It's a mouse within striking distance of my paw - and a dish of cooked mackerel, bought fresh from the quayside of Streonaeshalch. Reality is certainly not the abstract and obscure ravings of the seers and sorcerers that Beeby See and her lickspittle friends favour so much.
Why does Beeby want to share this idiocy with us? Apart from the fact that Beeby is buddy-pal with the Witangemot, (who pay her vast numbers of groats, extracted by force from the unwilling vassals and fiefs of Northumbria), I suspect there's a more fundamental reason. It's become evident to all thinking humans beings - and to this cat - that the Northumbrian State is distancing itself from the influence of the Christian faith, which hitherto has shaped the way of life and the values of human - ahem - civilisation. I referred some time ago to a de-Christianised Christmas; this outburst of folly is to my feline reckoning just another manifestation of the same foolishness. It's also the same kind of  frothy-chops folly that Edweird the Milliner was spouting yesterday. It's an escape from the truth. The pedestrian facts, which are so boring and so wretchedly inconvenient.

In the parallel world of these overpaid fantasists, everything is moulded into contorted shapes, directed by their feverish imaginations. A bit like shamanism, I suppose. Chew the mushrooms and the special herbs, throw the bones, sing the same song for several hours and everything will look better. For a while..

Monday 17 January 2011

History - Whose Story?

All this tormented feline brain wants to do is to switch into standby mode, relax and purr, stalk a few small rodents and birds - and have some semblance of normality.

Unfortunately there are so many things happening in the human realm that get my whiskers itchin' and my tail a-twitchin'. (And by the way, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the ways of the cat kingdom, a cat's twitching tail is generally a sign of hostility and annoyance - not the delirious expression of pleasure so beloved of the unreflective mutt community.)

Let me explain my unrest. Edweard the Milliner appeared in the sacred portal of the soothsayer Beeby See recently - a place that he and his ilk are known to haunt with monotonous regularity, given the more than evident sympathy that the allegedly impartial Beeby See displays for the Redistributionists. He was asked by Beeby's minor stooge Maerr whether the Redistributionist Faction accepted any responsibility for the state of the economy of Northumbria, since it was under the previous Red Witangemot administration that the financial collapse first manifested itself. An audible gasp was heard from all those humans who have a sense of perspective and aren't idiotised by the bread-and-circuses handouts of the ruling elite and the puerile knockabout of politics. Why were they shocked? Because Edweird the Milliner denied that the Red administration bore any responsibility for the mess of the Kingdom's finances.

As I recall (and Caedmon has confirmed this to me), the Red Faction held the Witangemot office for a full thirteen years. When they first took over from the Trees, who'd held office for years beforehand, the economy was thriving and the birds were singing. The good people of Streonaeshalch were going about their daily business, and life was comparatively good. This state of affairs continued for some time, and before long the Red chancellor - Guthmund the Brown - took the kudos for the stability of the Kingdom's finances. No more boom and bust. Whatever. In fact, he was simply claiming credit for the work of his predecessor, while selling off the Kingdom's gold to the Bulgars at bargain basement prices. After all - what did we need it for? Anyway, the money would come in handy for more diversity coordinators, pigeon psychiatrists and fish quota accountants. Full employment. Jobs for the pals. Big wages - loads of groats and fancy coats.

The moneylenders were given permission to do whatever they liked; life was good, and the living was easy. They started to take liberal doses of magic mushrooms, and consequently their collective judgement was impaired. They started to loan groats to goats and to sell debts to each other in an attempt to profit from these bizarre transactions. No. Really.  After a time, things started to unravel - as they always do when the fantasy bubble bursts.

And now Edweird the Milliner (I'll spell his name this way from now on - you don't mind, do you?) has denied that the Red administration had anything to do with the calamitous state of the economy. I'll tell you something: Feaxede the fox doesn't believe him. My big mate Leo doesn't, either.

But I'd bet my whiskers on the notion that there are human beings out there who do believe him. But can he just rewrite history like that? I don't think so. Truth has a nasty habit of catching up with those who repeatedly invent lies. The Creator defines truth - because He's the objective Truth behind everything. The likes of Ed Weird can fool other thinking humans, but they can't fool a cat, a fox or a big cat. And if they think they can fool the Creator, they're even bigger fools that I first thought.

Friday 14 January 2011

Winner Takes All

The wheels of human imbecility continue to grind relentlessly here in Northumbria.

Yesterday, there was an election in Auldholme, one of our provincial settlements in the west of our lovely country. The reason for this was that the previous Redistributionist Witangemot member - Woodlouse - had been unceremoniously removed from office, thus leaving the place vulnerable and unrepresented. This tragic and appalling state of affairs could not be allowed to continue, so an election was duly called.

Woodlouse had been ejected from his privileged seat for doing what comes so naturally to members of the Witangemot in general - and Redistributionists in particular. He'd been found guilty of lying about one of his rivals. Since mendacity is as natural to the Witangemot as breathing and excreting, I'm struggling to understand why this is such a big deal.

The only slant I can put on it is that in this case, Woodlouse was discovered to have lied, when the prevailing culture in politics seems to value those who lie in a truthful way (if you see what I mean). Woodlouse had lied in a mendacious way. That's what I think - for what it's worth. Make of it what you will.

Anyway. The most important development arising from this is that today we've heard the results of the local Great Count (where each member of the electorate casts a stick into the bin marked with the name of the candidate he or she votes for). The Redistributionist candidate was duly elected to replace Woodlouse. Oh, joyful day. The soothsayers are very excited about it. The last time I saw such delirious activity was when Caedmeron farted loudly in a solemn public occasion - and then went on to say that the winds of change were coming to Northumbria. These two events were not deliberately connected, but the excitement generated was palpable and intense. The Witangemot correspondents were kept busy for several weeks; they actually had to work for their groats for once.

The Redistributionist leader - Edweard the Milliner - has declared this result to be an outstanding victory. A new era has begun. The loyal people of Auldholme have voted for change as a result of the general discontent regarding the public expenditure cuts. The noble people of Auldholme have spoken and have sent the clear signal to the Trees/Liberationist alliance that they are not prepared to tolerate the sight of fish quota accountants, diversity coordinators and pigeon psychologists languishing in redundancy and grinding poverty. Whatever.

In actual fact, the virtuous people of Auldholme voted for the Redistributionist candidate because - like oxen - they are creatures of habit. They've always voted for Redistributionist candidates. So did their ancestors in neolithic times. And - despite the extravagant claims of Edweard the Milliner, they didn't vote according to some grand intellectual process; they voted because of basic, instinctive and tribal loyalties. The Red rosette would have been enough. If a goat had been presented as a Redistributionist candidate - and wore the requisite colour - it would now be the Honourable Member for Auldholme. He would then happily contribute to the braying and bleating that passes for debate in the Witangemot chamber. I think he would be a noble champion of their cause, too.

Frankly though, it doesn't matter who wins in these elections. They're all dominated by the noblemen and the rich moneylenders, who throw groats at them and oblige them to carry out their predetermined programme - and foist it onto a remarkably docile and bovine public who are too undiscerning to know any better. They get what they deserve.

As I was saying to my feline pals the other day - this is what provides my entertainment. But they look blankly at me as if I've grown two heads...

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Questioning The Cat

My interest in the human spheres of politics and culture certainly cause some amusement among my fellow cats - but it's also a cause of bemusement on their part. My feline friends don't understand me; they're more interested in cat activities. As long as they've got a warm hearth to sprawl in front of, fish to eat and the usual sports of hunting, a capella singing, copulation and territorial jostling, they're as happy as Larry.

This narrowness of outlook provokes not a little measure of irritation on my part, I must confess: it's so shortsighted. One question I'm frequently asked is, "What's so interesting about this human political stuff? Why should you - a mere cat - bother with things which are of no concern to us?" My answer is always the same: Simples. If it's of concern to our human hosts/owners, then it must be of concern to us. After all, whatever happens to Caedmon is going to have a direct effect on me as well. 

I know my place; I'm not number one in Caedmon's list of priorities, and I don't expect to be. He's a herdsman, a poet and a lay theologian, so he has plenty of other things to occupy and preoccupy him. He doesn't always remember to put fish out for me if he's had a hard day and is worn out. When that happens I forage for myself. As a cat, I'm a friendly companion who sometimes happens to be home when he returns from a day's work, and who enjoys a symbiotic relationship with a human being - like any other domestic moggy. An incidental in the one act play called Caedmon.

Another reason why I find the human realm so fascinating is because it's hilariously funny. The amount of posturing, theatre and bull-business is an endless source of entertainment. And since I'm a cat, I can stare intently and silently observe. I consider myself to be a shrewd judge of human character - and unlike many humans, I know when somebody is lying through their teeth. I can smell it and see it reflected in their gestures and detect it in their vocal expression.

What about other pets? Do they show any interest? As for dogs - well, I despair. They're so besotted with their owners and the scraps they're thrown that they don't give these human things a moment's consideration. I don't believe any of them are intelligent enough to appreciate that their lives are impacted by whatever befalls their masters. I can't get anything sensible out of the wretched creatures beyond their obligatory barks and growls; I like to play mind games with them and feign fear. Sometimes a sharp hiss and a strategically aimed cuff on the nose with claws extended is necessary to keep them in place.

Feaxede the fox on the other hand is always very interested in what I have to tell him. His view is that if the tides of human history turn so that Streonaeshalch is left as a smoking heap of ruins, he has to re-evaluate his lifestyle options. He's carved out a cosy niche for himself, raiding chicken runs and foraging rubbish dumps, so has developed a dependency on human habitations. He also happens to be a shrewd operator; I've seen him on his foraging missions, and he has calculated his escape strategies to a degree of perfection that defies belief. I once saw him extract himself from a nobleman's house - complete with a warm loaf of bread - with the householder in hot pursuit with a bow and arrow. Not one crumb was lost, and his cubs and vixen feasted well that day.

He asked me the other day, "What you would do if the Vikings came in force and destroyed the settlement?" I told him that we cats aren't as dependent as his dog cousins. We can slip back into our primeval way of life without a second thought. The diet wouldn't be as varied, though. Mice and birds get boring after a bit - and I can't catch sea fish to save my life. I'd certainly miss the comfortable fireside and Caedmon's kindness. And the theology, of course.

But if the Vikings came with their Eddas and their long beards, the entertainment would continue..

Tuesday 11 January 2011

A Blame Duck

One of our occasional lodgers - Alfmund - stayed with us over the weekend. He's a seasoned traveller who often regales us with stories he's heard in the course of his wanderings. This time he told us that a female politician in Ultima Thule was seriously injured - and several other people were killed - by a deranged young man with a crossbow a few days ago. Understandably, this terrible event has caused a great deal of unhappiness and soul-searching in Ultima Thule, and as ever, the soothsayers are having a field day; they scarcely witter about anything else. The young man responsible for this atrocity was siezed by the local costumed thugs, and is now languishing in jail, awaiting the next session of their Moot.

What's also significant about this development is the fact that the political faction to which the injured young politician belongs is laying the blame for this unhappy incident at the feet of a rival faction. This comes in the context of fierce political rivalries, which regularly find expression in hastily chosen words and angry exchanges in (and outside of) their Witangemot. It's all part of the showbiz of Witangemot politics. The roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd.

According to Alfmund's account, the young man responsible for this violence was a strange and disturbed soul, who on a previous occasion had asked the lady politician some rather bizarre questions. Perhaps he'd been chewing the magic mushrooms and drinking mead at the same time - but we're not sure about the cause of his insanity - or whether it's temporary or not.

Nevertheless, the politicians in the faction accused of provoking this incident are understandably angry at this unjust accusation - especially since the young fruitcake had no political or ideological affiliation with their particular cause. The accusing party have evidently run out of intellectual road. They deserve a lot of pity. There should be special care homes for them, poor dears. I'll have a word with Caedmon about this and see what he thinks.

It seems to be an unfailing trait of human nature to look for someone to blame. When Caedmon told me about the biblical account of the Fall in the Book of Genesis, he told me that when Adam was discovered by God to have disobeyed the one commandment given, Adam promptly blamed his wife Eve. She'd passed the forbidden fruit to him. It was therefore her fault. Eve in turn blamed the serpent who'd given her the idea in the first place. It was his fault. Neither of them actually put up their hands and said "It's a fair cop. My fault." Nuff said.

So. Somebody or something is to blame for this outrage. Let's look for someone, shall we? Where shall we start? Let's blame the crossbow manufacturer. If crossbows didn't exist, people wouldn't be injured or killed by them. We should ban them. Let's pass a law. The crossbow lobby would be up in arms about that.

But hang on a minute: crossbows are made of wood. If wood didn't exist, crossbows and bolts couldn't be made. It's the trees' fault. We must ban trees. Let's pass a law. The mucous-sleeved urban tree huggers would be up in arms about that.

This is getting silly. Let's blame global climate change, the Holy Roman Empire (which is neither holy, Roman nor an empire) and the parents. Oh - and the Witangemot.

Friday 7 January 2011


I'm coming to the conclusion that there must be something wrong with me. While I go about my usual feline pursuits, I find that my mind goes into overdrive. Unfortunately, the turbo boost my mental process experiences doesn't serve to enhance my effectiveness in hunting and killing prey one bit - in fact it becomes a wretched distraction. Countless mice and birds have escaped my claws and teeth because of my preoccupations; the latest object of my uncontrolled ruminations has been democracy.

It's a word I often hear drip from the chops of the various Witangemot puppets who spout from the sacred portals of the soothsayers. The other day I asked Caedmon what he thought democracy was. His reply was that it was the rule of the people; it was devised by the ancient Greeks (has no one put the old gits out of their misery yet?). Now, I understand that the Northumbrian people carry with them a blissful illusion that they have a say in the way they are governed. They fondly think that their voice is heard - and that it carries some weight with the Witangemot government. They vote for their most favoured factions, who lavish them with eloquent promises about a better future, a classless and just society, greater freedom, more rewards for their labours and so on. And according to the plausibility of these promises - and the individuals who make them - they cast their lot to select their desired Witangemot representative.

As a moggy - who is able to explore various areas that aren't available to the common and garden human being - I have insights not available to the world at large. I gatecrash parties and meetings, purr contentedly around the legs of the assembled guests or delegates and eavesdrop their conversations. I amass the things I see and overhear, and cogitate incessantly until a conclusion drops into place with a deafening thud.

But this time no such thing has happened. I'm finding democracy to be a very strange idea, and this is why: people nurse the idea that Witangemot and other democratic institutions reflect the wishes and aspirations of the majority. The other day, I heard that in the Suffolk area of the land of the Angles, the people were invited by their local Witangemot to vote for the image they thought best identified what the county stood for. The loyal people of that area of the Anglian kingdom duly submitted their chosen icon, and after the deadline date, the votes were counted. The result was that the good people of Suffolk voted for a band of unkempt, unwashed and rebellious young musicians called the 'Cot Of Dirtiness'. Not my preferred choice, I'll have to admit - but that's what they voted for. Whatever floats your longship. The Witangemot leaders didn't like the choice however, so they agreed to adopt the image of a horse for their county emblem instead. So - what was that all about?

And that's not all. King Jose Borracho - Ruler in Chief and Supreme Allied Commander of the Holy Roman Empire (which is neither holy, Roman, nor an empire) presented the various nations with a new treaty, the acceptance of which depended on a popular vote. The people of Ireland voted against it. Fair enough, Joe boy. You can't win 'em all. So, what happened next? King Jose Borracho - Ruler in Chief and Supreme Allied Commander of the Holy Roman Empire (which is neither holy, Roman, nor an empire) waited until a particularly uncertain time in the Irish economy, and foisted the same vote upon them. Again. No kidding. And this time, the poor suckers voted in favour of the treaty. And now - as I write - the Irish are up to their ears in debts, poxes and innumerable calamities.

Democracy. What's it really about? Perhaps you can now understand why I don't get the picture - and why the mice are getting away...

Thursday 6 January 2011

Holy Writ and All That

There seems to be a climate of interest in alternative Gospels. This has been taken up by the worthies Caeptain Ranty and Brother Gildas The Monk (on the Blessed St. Anna Raccoon's site). I've thrown in my two groats' worth for good measure.

As a cat, I'm not a trained theologian - although Caedmon has catechised me thoroughly and given me a pretty good all-round picture of Church History. I do have a basic understanding of Greek, which helps me to get under the skin of the translated New Testament scripture. The monks at the Abbey have been most helpful - especially Brother Wenham.

So - what about these other gospels that people have been talking so excitedly about recently? There are various writings which have been discovered since New Testament times. Some were pastoral letters (like the 'Shepherd of Hermas', the letter of Clement to the Corinthians and of Irenaeus to the Ephesians); these were written to serve a particular purpose. They were never intended to supplement Scripture - although they contain themes that are reflective of New Testament teaching. There were also many cults around that time which were influenced by the prevalent Greek religious and philosophical culture, along with the Babylonian mystery religions. These are referred to as the Gnostics. They wrote many of the manuscripts which are causing so much excitement at the moment; the substance of their writings at times contradicts the scriptural record and teachings. They were not embraced by the early church Fathers because they weren't regarded as genuine. I don't suppose that St. Thomas would have known anything about the gospel attributed to him!

There's a recognised spiritual principle borne out in history: where the genuine testimony appears, a counterfeit one also arrives to challenge it. For example, when Moses used the rod to authenticate to Pharaoh his God-given credentials and authority, Pharaoh's court mystics used another rod to replicate the miracles that had just been demonstrated. Where the testimony of the Son of God appears, a false testimony also arrives on the scene - in fact, many of them. And their purpose is to cause confusion and divert attention away from the genuine message. This happens because genuine Christianity is involved in a spiritual conflict which spills over into the human realm; there are spiritual forces at play. This is what the Apostle John refers to in one of his letters when he speaks of the many antichrists that have gone out into the world. (Anti in Greek means 'in place of' - or substitute.)

The Book of Enoch is quoted in scripture in the Letter of Jude, but St. Paul (in Acts 17) also quotes from the Greek poet Epimenedes. As far as I know, no one has suggested that his writings should also be incorporated into Scripture..!

Contrary to some fantastic ideas in circulation, the Church hasn't been covering up some esoteric secrets - although that idea tickles the fancy of some. Must go. There are mice to torment and catch!

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Landmarks and Boundaries

Another year has dawned here in Northumbria. It's strange how humans demarcate time by these numerical and psychological landmarks. Life goes on in its pedestrian pace here in the lovely settlement of Streonaeshalch in the land of Northumbria. A year has changed its number, but has it made any appreciable difference to human society? - I don't think so.

When I think about it, I'm all the more intrigued by the various invisible fences and walls that human beings construct. We live in a kingdom called Northumbria, but that is but one of several divisions within the landmass of this huge island upon which we live. There are the Mercian, Anglian and various Saxon kingdoms as well - as well as the areas where the Welsh and Scottish savages live. They too live within certain invisible boundaries. The humans here refer to them as 'chavs' - but I really wonder why. They have their fair share of wasters and ne'er-do-wells within their own camps.

As I understand it, there are certain physical features used to demarcate territory, such as hills, rivers and valleys. The previous occupants of this land - the Romans - built a huge wall to delineate the limits of their empire (and also to prevent their citizens from escaping over the line to the more Elysian Scottish side of the fence). But there are also lines of separation between one kingdom and another which are invisible to human, feline, canine and bovine eye. How would I possibly know if I'd strayed into another territory? Would the ground be of a different colour - or the grass a different shade of green? Apart from the differences in human speech, I doubt if there would be any appreciable distinction between one zone and another.

We cats have our territorial patches, too, but we lack the physical or mental ability to put up fences to keep other moggies out. We resort to scratching trees and wooden fences, rubbing our cheeks on physical objects - and of course the dump-and-spray techniques as a last resort to drive the message home to our contemporaries. But these boundaries aren't ever static; they're subject to constant re-negotiation through tooth and claw, usually when occupying cats either die off or up sticks and move elsewhere. I must however emphasise that these means are only reserved for those other cats who want - like some johnny-come-lately gangster - to push their luck. They get exactly what they deserve - which is usually a torn ear and a damaged ego. But our territories are constantly violated by humans, and we have to resign ourselves to this. My big pal Leo and his kind would probably stake their claim more aggressively, since they have more weight to throw about. Now that would be interesting..! My imagination runs riot.

Human landmarks and boundaries revolve around some cultural and tribal allegiance - or so I'm told - but I suspect that for the most part they exist for the sake of the wealthy noblemen as a means to corral and control humans. Very subtle they are, too; the ordinary men are prepared to fight and die in order to defend their patch. All because some numpty in a finely-woven tunic and cloak with a golden sword handle has told them to. Idiots!

Saturday 1 January 2011

The Cat's Resolution

A happy New Year to you all from here at Streonæshalch.

The snow has thawed and melted into the usual muddy mush; the passing of the winter solstice has brought out the customary changes in birdsong and apart from the onset of Epiphany, things are back to normal. The snow has left a dirty green and brown wasteland. What the ravages of winter have done to the land, the Witangemot has done to the people; the wasteland lies in their collective consciousness. Each new year those hopes and aspirations that oil the wheels of human endeavour seem to be in shorter supply - thanks to the combined efforts of the Witangemot and the vacuous and ceaseless chattering and scaremongering of the soothsayers.

I'm not going to let it all get to me - after all, I'm just a common and garden moggy. I'm just here for a few years before I join the celestial cat set and enjoy unalloyed feline bliss.

Nevertheless, between now and then there's a lot of things to explore, and a great deal of mischief to be made. I'm going to have fun! Lots of it!